It’s more-or-less impossible to divorce Final Fantasy XV from its inordinately long development. I was in seventh grade when this game was first announced as Versus XIII, and by the time the game was in my hands, I had graduated from college. Following all those years of anticipation, XV was never going to live up to everybody’s expectations, but even though it wasn’t quite the epic I had hoped for, it still ended up being one of my favorite games of last year.
Where XV succeeds is in fostering a sense of camaraderie between its main heroes. The game is a personal journey for Noctis, where he learns to accept the destiny placed upon his shoulders as a member of the royal family, but helping him along the way are Prompto, Ignis, and Gladiolus. Ever by your side, players will get to know Noctis’ friends: sitting around a campfire, sampling one of Iggy’s new “re-shup-ays,” exchanging quips as they fight alongside one another, or just basking in the scenery on a leisurely drive through the Eos countryside. Final Fantasy XV excels in the mundane, delivering an RPG experience that is as much about enjoying a trip with friends as it is about saving the world. There’s a reason that the game’s final scenes, where Noctis tries to express his feelings towards his friends as they prepare for his ascension, resonate more than any of the game’s other malnourished story beats might.
Although, it must be said: I got chills upon finally hearing “Somnus” in-game after waiting a decade.
by Mike Salbato
There are parts of Final Fantasy XV that remind us that it shares some development staff with the Kingdom Hearts series. No, not an incomprehensible plot, I can hear you in the back shouting. I refer to both a late-game battle, and the battle with Leviathan. In XV‘s world of Eos, these “summons” are called Astrals, as they aren’t simply a monster the size of a truck that swoops in and damages your foes, but they’re large, epic creatures, worthy of their position as gods within the XV universe.
Leaving all else aside — because I really want to leave aside the story development in the surrounding chapters — the path to Leviathan and ensuing battle is one of the defining moments in Final Fantasy XV. It’s in fact one of the earlier things shown in the game, back when “Versus XIII” became assumed vaporware. Noctis running through a city in the midst of being destroyed, and a larger-than-life Leviathan made for a fun CG trailer, but nothing could have prepared me for the real game delivering on that wild cinematic experience.
It’s a little removed from the rest of the game, as one of those “you have crazy powers, but only for right now” moments, but you know what? Who cares. Epic boss battles don’t get much bigger or more extravagant, and I could not have been more impressed.
The artwork in our Memoria feature is thanks to the tireless efforts of Stephanie Sybydlo, who is both our hard-working social media editor and an immensely talented artist. See more of Stephanie’s work on her Tumblr, follow her on Twitter, and hire her for your next project. Do it!
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